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The Exclusionary Boundary of the Early Modern International Community

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image of Nordic Journal of International Law

In an effort to gain a deeper understanding of an important referent of contemporary international law, the international community as a whole, this article retrieves four senses of such a community as elaborated by early modern European jurists: the Christendom highlighted by Thomas Aquinas and William of Ockham, the community constituted from customary norms as featured by Vitoria, Jean Bodin, Suárez, and Grotius, Kant’s “league of nations”, and Hegel’s “world history”. The shared theme of each sense of an international community is that, despite the universality attributed to the community, some societies are excluded from recognition and membership. This exclusionary character of the international community raises the question whether a sense of an international community is emerging which overcomes the problems leading to such an exclusionary character.

Affiliations: 1: Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Windsor, Windsor, ON, Canada, URL:


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